New Jersey is remembering one of it's icons in James Gandolfini following his sudden death on Wednesday night in Rome from a heart attack as one of the final photos of the actor appears on Twitter.

Latest on James Gandolfini's death

2:19 p.m. HBO takes its Twitter account and "cuts to black"

HBO "cuts to black" in remembrance of James Gandolfini
HBO "cuts to black" in remembrance of James Gandolfini (Twitter)

James Gandolfini in Rome
James Gandolfini in Rome in a photo taken shortly before his death. (WXIA TV via Twitter)

12:17 p.m. - James Gandolfini spent the final hours of his life in Taormina, Italy preparing for a film festival. ""He was so happy to be in Italy, to reconnect with his Italian roots, and he was very excited to come to Taormina and receive this award," artistic director Mario Sesti told the Hollywood Reporter. They returned to Rome and his son Michael found Gandolfini collapsed in the bathroom according to NBC News. Antonio D'amore from the Hotel Boscolo in Rome, tells NBC News that Gandolfini was still alive when the ambulance arrived.

Atlanta TV station WXIA posted a photo submitted by a viewer of what could be one of the last photos taken of Gandolfini. They were sitting next to the actor as he and his family ate dinner.  In his observation the family was happy and enjoying the evening

9:07 a.m. - Once the U.S. Embassy issues a death certificate Gandolfini's body can be returned to the United States according to CNN.

8:41 a.m. - Mourners, meanwhile, are leaving flowers at his TriBeCa apartment and flocking to the locations around New Jersey used in the filming of the Sopranos, according to WNBC, like the Satin Doll in Lodi. It doubled as the Bada Bing Club on the show. "The phone's ringing off the hook here," manager Lance Lyons told the station.  "People are coming dorwn."

7: 15 a.m.
James Gandolfini's cause of death has been confirmed as a heart attack.

Dr. Claudio Modini, head of the emergency room at the Policlinic Umberto I hospital in Rome, said Gandolfini arrived at the hospital at 10:20 p.m. (2020 GMT, 4:20 p.m. EDT) Wednesday and was pronounced dead at 11 p.m. after resuscitation efforts in the ambulance and hospital failed.

Modini told The Associated Press that an autopsy would be performed starting 24 hours after the death, as required by law.



Policlinico Umberto I hospital in Rome where James Gandolfini died
Policlinico Umberto I hospital in Rome where James Gandolfini died (Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images)

Gandolfini's lumbering, brutish mob boss with the tortured psyche will endure as one of TV's indelible characters.

But his portrayal of criminal Tony Soprano in HBO's landmark drama series "The Sopranos" was just one facet of an actor who created a rich legacy of film and stage work in a life cut short.



Gandolfini, 51, who died Wednesday while vacationing in Rome, refused to be bound by his star-making role in the HBO series that brought him three Emmy Awards during its six-season run.

TMZ, who broke the news of Gandolfini's death, reports Gandolfini and his son Michael were on a "guy's trip" to celebrate Michael's 8th grade graduation. They were going to attend the the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily this weekend.

James Gandolfini (L) and wife Deborah Lin
James Gandolfini (L) and wife Deborah Lin (Sonia Recchia/Getty Images)

Organizers of the Festival were scrambling to put together a tribute to Gandolfini, who had been expected to attend the festival's closing ceremony this weekend and receive an award. Organizers Mario Sesti and Tiziana Rocca said Gandolfini will instead be honored with a tribute "remembering his career and talent."

Sesti and Rocca said they had spoken to Gandolfini hours before his death "and he was very happy to receive this prize and be able to travel to Italy."

Gandolfini grew up in Park Ridge the son of a building maintenance chief at a Catholic school and a high school lunch lady.

After earning a degree in communications from Rutgers University, Gandolfini moved to New York, where he worked as a bartender, bouncer and nightclub manager. When he was 25, he joined a friend of a friend in an acting class.

"A New Jersey Treasure"

David Chase and Steven Van Zandt
David Chase and Steven Van Zandt (Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Reaction to Gandolfini's death has come from all corners, from politicians to Hollywood.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called Gandoldini's death  "an awful shock" and remembered him as a "true Jersey guy" and a "New Jersey treasure." Senator Robert Mendndez said that he was "a proud New Jerseyan" who was a "television icon" thanks to the Sopranos.

Downloads of the first season of the Sopranos are climbing the iTunes chart at #21. HBO is airing episodes of the show but does not plan a marathon of episdoes. No cable channel holds the rights to the show; A+E's deal to run "clean" versions of the show ended in 2007 according to the Hollywood Reporter.

"He was a genius," said "Sopranos" creator David Chase. "Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes."

HBO called the actor a "special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone, no matter their title or position, with equal respect."

Joe Gannascoli, who played Vito Spatafore on the drama series, said he was shocked and heartbroken.

"Fifty-one and leaves a kid — he was newly married. His son is fatherless now. ... It's way too young," Gannascoli said.

Gandolfini and his wife, Deborah, who were married in 2008, have a daughter, Liliana, born last year, HBO said. The actor and his former wife, Marcy, have a teenage son, Michael.

Getting Past Tony Soprano


James Gandolfini in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
James Gandolfini in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Facebook)

Gandolfini's performance in "The Sopranos" was his ticket to fame, but he evaded being stereotyped as a mobster after the drama's breathtaking blackout ending in 2007.

In a December 2012 interview with The Associated Press, he was upbeat about the work he was getting post-Tony Soprano.

"I'm much more comfortable doing smaller things," Gandolfini said then. "I like them. I like the way they're shot; they're shot quickly. It's all about the scripts — that's what it is — and I'm getting some interesting little scripts."

He played Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Kathryn Bigelow's Osama bin Laden hunt docudrama "Zero Dark Thirty." He worked with Chase for the '60s period drama "Not Fade Away," in which he played the old-school father of a wannabe rocker. And in Andrew Dominick's crime flick "Killing Them Softly," he played an aged, washed-up hit man.

On Broadway, he garnered a best-actor Tony Award nomination for 2009's "God of Carnage."

Deploying his unsought clout as a star, Gandolfini produced a pair documentaries for HBO focused on a cause he held dear: veterans affairs.

Outpouring Of Remembrances

He was mourned online in a flood of celebrity comments. "The great James Gandolfini passed away today. Only 51. I can't believe it," Bette Midler posted on her Twitter account.

"An extraordinary actor. RIP, Mr. Gandolfini," Robin Williams tweeted.

His final projects included the film "Animal Rescue," directed by Michael R. Roskam and written by Dennis Lehane, which has been shot and is expected to be released next year. He also had agreed to star in a seven-part limited series for HBO, "Criminal Justice," based on a BBC show. He had shot a pilot for an early iteration of the project.

While Tony Soprano was a larger-than-life figure, Gandolfini was exceptionally modest and obsessive — he described himself as "a 260-pound Woody Allen."

In past interviews, his cast mates had far more glowing descriptions to offer.


Lorraine Bracco and James Gandolfini
Lorraine Bracco and James Gandolfini (Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

"I had the greatest sparring partner in the world, I had Muhammad Ali," said Lorraine Bracco, who, as Tony's psychiatrist Dr. Melfi, went one-on-one with Gandolfini in their penetrating therapy scenes. "He cares what he does, and does it extremely well."

Gandolfini's first big break was a Broadway production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" where he played Steve, one of Stanley Kowalski's poker buddies. His film debut was in Sidney Lumet's "A Stranger Among Us" (1992).

Director Tony Scott, who killed himself in August 2012, had praised Gandolfini's talent for fusing violence with charisma — which he would perfect in Tony Soprano.

Gandolfini played a tough guy in Scott's 1993 film "True Romance," who beat Patricia Arquette's character to a pulp while offering such jarring, flirtatious banter as, "You got a lot of heart, kid."

Scott called Gandolfini "a unique combination of charming and dangerous."

In his early career, Gandolfini had supporting roles in "Crimson Tide" (1995), "Get Shorty" (1995), "The Juror" (1996), Lumet's "Night Falls on Manhattan" (1997), "She's So Lovely" (1997), "Fallen" (1998) and "A Civil Action" (1998). But it was "True Romance" that piqued the interest of Chase.

In his 2012 AP interview, Gandolfini said he gravitated to acting as a release, a way to get rid of anger. "I don't know what exactly I was angry about," he said.

"I try to avoid certain things and certain kinds of violence at this point," he said last year. "I'm getting older, too. I don't want to be beating people up as much. I don't want to be beating women up and those kinds of things that much anymore."



A selection of actor James Gandolfini’s film and television work ( Hollywood Reporter)

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone 2013

Zero Dark Thirty 2012

Not Fade Away 2012

Killing Them Softly 2012

Down the Shore 2011

Mint Julep 2010

Welcome to the Rileys 2010

Where the Wild Things Are (voice) 2009

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 2009

In the Loop 2009

The Sopranos (TV series) 1999-2007

All the King’s Men 2006

Lonely Hearts 2006

Romance & Cigarettes 2005

Surviving Christmas 2004

The Last Castle 2001

The Man Who Wasn’t There 2001

The Mexican 2001

8MM 1999

A Civil Action 1998

The Mighty 1998

Fallen 1998

Perdita Durango 1997

She’s So Lovely 1997

The Juror 1996

Get Shorty 1995

Crimson Tide 1995

Terminal Velocity 1994

Angie 1994

Mr. Wonderful 1993

True Romance 1993

The Associated Press contributed to this report


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